With the mayor's election in New Orleans right around the corner, a few of the top elected officials in Jefferson Parish are deciding to get involved. Of this group, one of the most popular, Sheriff Harry Lee, has decided to support Richard Pennington. According to Lee, he is supporting Pennington for a variety of reasons, with the most important one being a close personal friendship.
As top law enforcement officials in neighboring parishes, Lee and Pennington established a strong working relationship. Lee observed Pennington in action and liked what he saw, stating, "I'm impressed by what he did in New Orleans." Lee believes that Pennington will bring honesty, integrity and an ability to get things done to the mayor's office. Lee also credits Pennington with having the right experience to lead New Orleans. Based on his positions with police departments in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, Lee believes that "[Pennington's] got more administrative experience than the other 14 candidates."
Unlike others who claim that Pennington will be the puppet of Marc Morial and/or Bill Jefferson, Lee is convinced that Pennington is totally independent. As police chief, "Pennington had to echo the mayor's position," Lee says, but now is free to follow his own agenda.
"I will be doing what I can to help Pennington get elected," Lee says. Those duties include raising needed campaign funds and spreading the word about the chief to friends in New Orleans. However, he will not make an official endorsement of Pennington. "I don't think the people in New Orleans would appreciate me making an endorsement," he says.
In regard to the other leading candidates, Paulette Irons, Ray Nagin, Troy Carter and Jim Singleton, Lee has kind words to say about all of them, stating, "I think New Orleans will be well served by any of the top five." Yet, among this leading group of candidates, Lee notes that Irons has significant support among many of his friends, including Jefferson Parish state Rep. Steve Scalise. By endorsing Irons, Scalise has joined other leading Republicans in the metropolitan New Orleans area, including state Rep. Peppi Bruneau and state Sen. John Hainkel. Lee notes that his duties will not include twisting the arms of anyone already committed to Irons or the other candidates.
Republicans Name Winners of David C. Treen Activism Award
Last week at Verona's Restaurant in Harahan, Jefferson Parish Republicans gathered to raise funds for their headquarters and honor their top volunteer activists. The David C. Treen activism award has been given to the top Republican volunteer in Jefferson Parish for the past three years. According to Roger Villere, former East Jefferson Republican PAC Chairman, the award is named after Treen "because he is the father of the Republican Party in Jefferson Parish." The award is important, says Villere, because "we wanted to show Dave our appreciation for his service to our party. He was instrumental in making the party what it is today."
The 2001 Treen award honorees were Nan Mitchell, a top fundraiser and organizer of President George W. Bush's visit to Jefferson Parish, and Lynne Loyola, the president of the West Bank Women's Republican Club. Both will have their names engraved on the permanent plaque hanging in Jefferson Parish Republican headquarters that bears the names of previous winners Jean Guidry (1999), Garner Gremillion (2000) and Charlotte Ruiz (2000).
Attending the event were many of the major Republican elected officials in the parish, such as Parish President Tim Coulon, state Rep. Charlie Lancaster, state Rep. Jennifer Sneed and Jefferson Parish Assessor Lawrence Chehardy. Also attending were both of the candidates for the upcoming mayor's race in Kenner, incumbent Louis Congemi and challenger John Lavarine Jr., a Jefferson Parish councilman.
Speakers at the event included Coulon, U.S. Senate candidate and Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman, and, of course, former Louisiana Gov. Dave Treen. In his remarks, Treen noted that Feb. 1, 2002, would mark the 40th anniversary of his switch to the Republican Party. In his brief remarks, Treen also thanked those assembled for their support over the years and expressed gratitude for being able to serve the public as a U.S. congressman and as governor, calling those experiences his "great adventures in life."
Treen did not rule out the possibility of running for governor in 2003 and noted that he would soon be traveling across the state for speaking engagements and to meet with a wide variety of voters.